Report from the Executive Director, August 2021

By Hazel Corcoran

CWCF is excited to be hosting our first ever fully virtual conference this fall, from November 16-18. Our theme, “Building Better Together”, will explore how worker co-operatives have demonstrated resilience and solidarity throughout the Covid19 pandemic, while facing significant challenges.  We will share particular strategies of worker co-ops in dealing with crises such as the pandemic. Further, this theme will cover how communities would benefit from building more worker co-operatives, including through the lens of racial and economic justice and also in particular sectors such as elder and other social care, environmental sustainability, and beyond.  As always, there will be sessions on topics of practical interest for worker co-operators (please see the article elsewhere in this newsletter for a preview).  I hope you will join us at the conference, as the fact it is both completely free and fully online this year makes it accessible to everyone.

CWCF is also seeking nominations for its board of directors, which will be elected at our AGM on November 17.  Serving on the CWCF Board is a great opportunity to help guide the worker co-op movement in this country and for networking with other worker co-operators.  To be eligible to run, you must be a worker-member of a CWCF Regular Member (worker co-op or multi-stakeholder co-op with substantial worker control), or be nominated by a Regional Federation (currently only in Quebec).  To reflect its commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, CWCF encourages nominations from equity-seeking groups.

There are four seats available, starting at the 2021 AGM:

  • BC/Yukon Director (3-year term)
  • Ontario Director (3-year term)
  • Quebec Director (3-year term)
  • At-large Director (2-year term, currently vacant)

Nominations are requested by October 29th, but are open up to and including on the floor of the AGM.   Nominations can be sent to the Nominating Committee Chair Evan Proven, copying Hazel Corcoran.

The three groups participating in CWCF’s Worker Co-op Academy are nine weeks into the 5-month program, and are making great progress. This is thanks to their hard work and dedication, as well as the assistance being provided by their lead instructor, veteran co-op developer Russ Christianson and our team of coaches.  The coaches working with the groups are Marty Frost, Lynn Hannley, and Denyse Guy, who in turn are mentoring Danielle Soucie, Gilbert da Silva, and Meg Ronson.  Because this is a pilot project, we’re also learning how we can improve future iterations. We look forward to sharing more details about the worker co-ops that will emerge from this program in the coming months.

CWCF’s JEDDI (justice, equity, diversity, decolonization, and inclusion) committee held a successful invitation-only workshop in the spring on Building Racial Justice in the Worker Co-op Movement in Canada, facilitated by Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard and Victor Beausoleil of SETSI, and featuring presentations by Trista Pewapisconias of Co-operatives First and Christine Clarke of Freedom Dreams Education Co-op. The Committee is now working on an action plan including elements of outreach, worker co-op development, and existing worker co-ops, each of which was the subject of a break-out session at this spring’s workshop.  We invite all who are interested to attend the session hosted by the Committee at our conference.  We cannot achieve economic justice without racial justice, and we’re excited to be making this an explicit focus of CWCF’s work.